Clerks of Time
I did not think that I should find them there
When I came back again; but there they stood,
As in the days they dreamed of when young blood
Was in their cheeks and women called them fair.
But sure they met me with an ancient air,—
And yes, there was a shop-worn brotherhood
About them; but the men were just as good,
And just as human as they ever were.
And you that ache so much to be sublime,
And you that feed yourselves with your descent,
What comes of all your visions and your fears?—
Poets and kings are but the clerks of Time,
Tiering the same dull webs of discontent,
Clipping the same sad alnage of the years.
alnage—"Official inspection and measurement of woollen cloth, and attestation of its value by the affixing of a leaden seal." (OED)